Opinion Watch out EMC, HDS, IBM and NetApp, there's a new storage kid in town. Pale, undernourished HP is on a regimen of 3PAR vitamins and steroids and has spoken about its plans to bulk up and kick ass.
HP StorageWorks revealed itself in its new colours this morning in an event at Barcelona to which they flew sundry journalists and bloggers. The dominant message is that 3PAR rules, providing both the HP storage architecture for the next decade and the new head of StorageWorks, ex-CEO of 3PAR, David Scott.
David Donatelli, HP's ESS exec VP, set the scene. He announced that HP is leading in servers, is number one in internal storage, but has just 11 per cent of the external storage market. This is a really disappointing statistic, a measure of dreadful performance, leaving the mid-range and enterprise storage market open to HP's four main competitors: EMC, HDS, IBM and NetApp. These companies have made gains while HP has been trying with EVA and XP, and - let's be blunt here - failing. What else would you call an 11 per cent market share compared to its ranking in servers, networking and internal storage?
The only sure-fire storage hit is the P4000, the LeftHand iSCSI SAN storage, which grew revenues in triple digits last quarter.
Up with this Donatelli will not put. The future is to go where the market is going, and that means storage for private and public clouds and service providers. THe XP/P9500 range has a role as the mainframe attach storage but other than that becomes an installed base system - with development ahead of it for sure, but if HP is right and the future is cloud, then XP and the P9000 at present do not fit.
EVA and XP/P9000
Ditto EVA but without any unique niche; it is purely an installed base play. As it did with the XP, HP will keep faith with that base. Donatelli spoke this morning of new EVA generations coming: note the plural. But ten years from now, if the strategy works, the P8000 - or whatever the 3PAR brand has morphed into - will be the dominant HP storage architecture for the mid-range, enterprise non-mainframe and cloud markets. The P4000 would be providing the small and medium enterprise storage and the X9000 providing file and object storage.
It's likely that there will be some integration of the X9000 Ibrix technology with 3PAR to provide a file and block interface. It is also possible, not that Donatelli will discuss this at all, that an EVA personality could be put onto the 3PAR technology.
In the shorter term, StoreOnce deduplication will be aced to the P4000 for primary data deduplication and then, probably, to 3PAR. We will also see a client-side deduplication capability by the integration of StoreOnce with HP's DataProtector backup product, according to Tom Joyce, StorageWorks Marketing, Strategy and Operations VP, who has been with HP one year since being recruited from EMC.
What we have here is a much more fully-featured storage product line, a more coherent product line than the thin three-layer cake provided by the XP/EVA/P4000 trio of a year ago.
The people inside StorageWorks, if our sense of things is correct, largely acknowledge that HP has under-performed in storage and that the 3PAR-led organisation can bring out the latent strengths and kick storage ass.
The future of the replaced Dave Roberson, until yesterday the SVP and general manager for StorageWorks and inherited by Donatelli, is apparently undecided. He seems to have been recruited by people who knew StorageWorks had to change but before HP as a whole was willing to embrace that change and do things like buy 3PAR. The word is that he is an excellent exec who has many options ahead of him.
For HP to grow its storage business it has to take market share from its competitors. Who is vulnerable?
Oracle and NetApp
Oracle's 7000 storage line is categorised by Siamak Navari, 3PAR's storage architect, this way: "Ours [3PAR] is very much a storage platform rather than a modified server platform. 3PAR is the best storage device we could build. The 7000 may be a great database server but is not the best storage platform."
Craig Nunes, now doing StorageWorks marketing, said: " Customers need to consolidate Oracle but also need to run VMware and other apps and really need to do it on one storage platform."
Donatelli jumped in and added this: "Most businesses run multiple apps. They don't want to specialise in niche products ... [because] this perpetuates infrastructure sprawl, which 3PAR is trying to move away from."
What about unified storage, meaning NetApp? (We have heard from a person who should know that there could be a NetApp Sucks T-shirt inside HP.) The answer is in two parts.
Scott said: "3PAR already has a relationship with Ibrix. We supported Ibrix as a front-end gateway for file access to 3PAR. We now have the opportunity to further integrate the platforms and add common manageability. It will take time. ... HP's intention is to put far more research and development dollars into storage. This will enable a faster route to market for developments."
Donatelli said enterprises mostly separate file and block storage, implying that the unified storage threat was not that strong.
We heard again and again that overlapping storage products was not a bad thing, and that it provided wider market opportunities than were available to vendors with single product architectures.
El Reg thinks that HDS might feel the invigorated HP's storage edge - although it does have a wider set of storage product categories than NetApp or Oracle. Likewise, Dell might find its accounts being visited by HP's in-house and channel sales reps. Dell has no real answer to 3PAR, having tried to buy it and failed. Obviously HP will throw a 3PAR story at every mid-range, enterprise and cloud Dell account it can find.
How about IBM? It has its own ongoing storage invigoration going on with the SONAS, SVC and XIV products. What HP will do is push the message that the DS8000 and other DS architectures are 20 years old and at some stage you have to move to a modern architecture - meaning 3PAR - and stop buying storage systems made to look good as if by putting lipstick on a pig (our phrasing, not HP's actual words).
HP is convinced that 3PAR - with its clustered multi-tenancy, thin storage technologies and autonomic management - is a storage star which will enable HP to claim its rightful place as a storage vendor equal to HDS, IBM, NetApp and Oracle. That's the plan.
Now it's down to the 3PAR team to evangelise itself inside HP, gain the whole-hearted support of its new colleagues, and go forth and multiply sales. Over to you David Scott, prodigal son returned to the HP fold. Can you work the magic and prevent 3PAR technology becoming just another unsuccessful HP attempt to claim the storage high ground? ®